KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday ordered the release of over 40 workers and supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) detained under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance.

A two-judge bench headed by SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh suspended the operation of the detention orders after a provincial law officer failed to produce the material on the basis of which such orders were passed.

It directed the jail authorities to release the detainees subject to executing a personal bond of Rs10,000 each before the jail superintendents or SHOs concerned if they were not required in any other case.

Relatives of the detainees had petitioned the SHC stating that police had arrested them after May 9 protests and the provincial authorities had illegally detained them under the MPO for 30 days and kept most of them at the detention facilities located in the interior parts of Sindh.

When the bench took up around 30 identical petitions impugning the detentions under the MPO, the lawyers for the petitioners argued that the detentions were unwarranted and the impugned orders were bereft of any foundation.

When the bench asked an additional advocate general (AAG) about the material on the basis of which the impugned detention orders were passed, he submitted that such material was not presently available and sought time to file para-wise comments.

While questioning the maintainability of such petitions, the AAG claimed that an alternate remedy was available by way of representation to the provincial government and the same was efficacious as a representation was invariably decided in a single day.

However, the bench in its orders noted that when asked to produce any order whereby a representation had been decided, he was unable to cite any such instance.

It directed the respondents to file comments before June 1, along with the supported material, if any. Meanwhile, under the given circumstances, the operation of the impugned orders stood suspended, it added.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2023

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